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User Rating Comment Status
Andrew Graham
Scotland
Airdrie
Lanarkshire
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10
Nov 2012
Started using play test rules. But nicer with actual game. Very good support from the game designer.
2010-11-08
Owned
Preordered
Want To Play
David Ells
United States
Baltimore
Maryland
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Here the truceless armies yet / Trample, rolled in blood and sweat; / They kill and kill and never die; / And I think that each is I. // None will part us, none undo / The knot that makes one flesh of two, /
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Sick with hatred, sick with pain, / Strangling -- When shall we be slain? // When shall I be dead and rid / Of the wrong my father did? / How long, how long, till spade and hearse / Puts to sleep my mother's curse?
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10
Nov 2010
This is Phil Eklund's masterpiece, some 30 years in the making. It also marks the arrival of Sierra Madre Games into the professional level of game components, which began with an earlier & equally groundbreaking design, Origins. There is a lot of detail & interplay of game mechanics, participation between players, strategy and overall a lot of replayability. The game is supported at Boardgamegeek.com and also at the Yahoo Groups listed above.

I am a big fan of SMG's Origins, and it took me a little while to become thoroughly acquainted with it, but this one is now my favorite of the 2. Bravo, Phil!
2010-11-07
Owned
Preordered
Want To Play
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
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The Cathedral is vast, as are you.
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10
Dec 2011
tl;dr — After 30 plays, this has become my most favorite game ever. It is a Masterpiece, a Magnum Opus and there is nothing quite like it. If you are even remotely into space science/exploration then this was built for you. Just take your time, ease into it and don't be in a hurry to swallow the whole shebang in one go.

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Right now... just seriously geeking out on the science. Shot a rover at Mars and managed to get it there, survived the aerobraking maneuver only to lose it in a sandstorm.

Intrigued and really looking forward to a proper play.

UPDATE: First play. Mind blown.

UP-UPDATE: Rockets to a solid 9 after two more back-to-back plays, one of which saw the Japanese lose salarynauts over Venus, the ESA looping the screams of their brave aströnautes (breaking up on final approach to Comet Encke) in swanky discotheques, and the UN burning in three full crews over Mars, one after the other, grinding the same doomed mission over and over again. Twenty-four cosmonauts later, Mars was his.

Some thoughts:

It's not nearly as complicated or difficult as the rules would have you believe.
This is the game that dares you to figure out how to play. While the living rules and other attempts at simplified rules, summaries, walk-throughs & etc. all help a great deal, none of them are as clear or straightforward as they could or should be. Once you do figure out how to play, the game's a lot simpler than it appears. That's not to say it's not complex, but the complexity arises from the potential bushiness of the decision tree growing in the sandbox.

The obtuse rule book and the effort required to sift through the spray of Internet resources to figure out just how to play the damn thing keep it from a truly-deserved 10.

The base game is more than enough for a good while.
It's a pretty enormous sandbox—you've got the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars (Phobos & Deimos), and a spray of asteroids & comets, with a deep selection of tech to get you Out There... aaand no real direction.* It's simultaneously terrifying and liberating. You can run any mission you can imagine, any way you can finagle it. While it's daunting trying to figure out just what to do, it's exhilarating when a really complicated orbital ballet comes together—solar sail a crew module out from Earth to rendezvous with a freighter carrying a high-tech thruster built by robots at your factory on a distant rock, ditch the sail and burn for the outpost where you stashed some prospecting robonauts, pick them up, refuel on an icy asteroid and wing to the outer edges of the solar system.

Ultimately, the unfortunate effort required to figure it all out is more than worth it. There's no board game experience quite like it and I find myself daydreaming of the most harebrained and unlikely missions...

Can't wait to play more!

UP-UP-UPDATE: More sandbox sim than game. There is no "rubber-banding" mechanism to help those who fall behind, and whiffing on a single risky maneuver (aerobraking or hazard) can cost you the win.** This isn't a knock against the game at all—it's a simulation with a lesson to teach, and it teaches it well: space exploration & exploitation is expensive, difficult and dangerous. It's only for those with resolve and daring. A frontier indeed. When sitting down to roll through this it's best to adjust the mindset appropriately—it's an experience, a sim, a place to experiment and fail. Attempting to game it or play it in a "gamey" fashion will result in a crippled, unsatisfying half-experience.

Surprisingly, playtime has hovered around two hours, even for our five-player games!

UP-UP-UP-UPDATE: It's really, really hard to watch Taikonauts loot your billion-dollar landing site—using your flag to erase your footprints and your commemorative plaque as a hammer. It's the kind of vandalism that hardens hearts and launches nukes...

I think this just might be my favorite game.

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Everything you need to know is right here:

Shame & Terror at 225 Million Klicks

Portraits of the Stupid-Brave: Drunk in Mission Control

CUBES OF DOOM

"My God, it's full of stars!" and Other Things Screamed Out the Bunghole

WHY THIS GAME IS HOPELESSLY BROKEN

High Frontier Haiku

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(Includes High Frontier Colonization.)


*The pre-fab "signpost" missions are a good start, but some favor different tech over others which puts you in the Catch-22 position of not knowing good from bad without several plays. Being a sandbox experience, failure is half the fun, right?

**You can avoid taking those risks by not going there or invoking the FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION RULE (spending 4 WT to skip the die roll)... but then your game will develop more slowly than those who accept the risk and dive in head-first.

NOTE: This copy signed by Phil at Essen. *swoon*
2014-07-28
Owned
Kyle W.
United States
Up Nort' Der
Wisconsin
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Now appearing in Jurassic World! (Not really)
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10
Oct 2012
Wow. High Frontier is so cool on so many levels, but make no mistake:
This game wants to hurt you. It wants to kill you. It is brutal, unforgiving, and will not hesitate to break you if you give it the chance.

Do not expect to fully understand this game the first time you play it, and if you think you do, chances are pretty good you're doing something wrong.

However, if you're willing to put up with a few games where you fail miserably and you take the time to really learn how to play this, you'll be rewarded with one of the most incredible gaming experiences ever, and one that just keeps on getting better and better the more you play it.

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Within you get a great auction game (with inherently unbalanced items), you get exploration and expansion, pickup & deliver, and even a little bit of chance, all wrapped up in an awesome sciencey shell. This is rocket science.

There's a crapload of stuff in the rules to this game, but once you get the core rules down it's a lot less complicated than it at first appears. It can take several plays just to get a feel for how everything ties together, and then several more to really get good at it.

There is some math involved but it's pretty basic stuff (just some minor addition and subtraction).

If you're just starting out, don't even look at the expansion until you played the "basic" game at least three or four times. The expanded game components are an absolute must-have, but the complexity they add to rocket construction and movement will only cause confusion when you're still trying to figure out the basics. The events and political track add even more layers of complexity that can quickly overwhelm if you're not up to speed on everything else first. Colonization is another step beyond, and you have to work your way up to it. Most people will drown if they try jumping straight into this deep end.



Also, if you're even slightly interested in this game, make sure to get the giant poster map. 36x24 is almost an exact match for the original board plus the expansion, but if you've got the table space for it, bigger is better.
2013-11-20
Owned
Want To Play
Piotr Modzelewski
Poland
Warszawa
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10
Jan 2013
Based on two plays - one 2-player, one solo (Hermes Fall scenario): a deep game, that keeps you coming back and thinking how you could have done things differently.

I've tried the expanded game from start, got some rules wrong, but hell - it was fun! I imagine that the basic game would be too light for my taste, much of the fun is from struggling to build a workable rocket design - I believe a puzzle of 6 pieces (using the expansion) is much more satisfying than the 3 piece basic game.

Be warned, this is not a game for everyone. Although the designer went a long way to hide the actual science behind the scene you still have to do some basic maths and basic physics knowledge helps understand why thing are the way they are. Also, the "space road-map" is so complicated that you can spend quite a lot of time trying to find an optimal route between two spaces.
Definitely not for AP susceptible people.
2011-10-20
Owned
Chapel
United States
Round Rock
Texas
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Exit...pursued by a bear.
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10
Jul 2012

My best of 2010!
2012-07-14
Owned
Chad Marlett
United States
Plymouth
Michigan
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Wherever You Go, There You Are
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With no certain future, and no purpose other than to prevail
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10
Mar 2012
Outstanding.

The thought that went into this game to make it realistic and playable is simply amazing. The rules are not complex, but the strategy is massively deep. The challenge is not figuring out how to play, it is figuring out how to play well.

The mission planning required to be succesful will certainly make this a game that isn't for everyone, and really not even for the majority of people. You can not just build a rocket and start moving around without a plan - this will lead to nothing but frustration.

If real space exploration interests you, and you grew up interested in what NASA was up to, this game is the one you have been waiting for.

When learning this game, I would recommend at least 2 plays with the basic rules and the quick start. When you are learning, you won't understand the benefit of one patent versus another, so you might as well start with some random ones and experiment.

My house rule (advanced game): players start with 6WT, high roller picks a faction and starts a bid. winner of the bid gets the faction (money to bank). If the player that chose the faction didn't win the bid, they pick another and so on until everyone has a faction. Once you have a faction, you can no longer bid.

includes expansion and poster map

note: these comments only cover the Legacy (non-Colonization) game.
2015-01-21
Owned
我爱桌面游戏像老鼠爱大米
Spain
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10
Jul 2013
A Carl Sagan le habría encantado jugarlo. Y a mí hacerlo con él.
2013-11-03
Owned
Pieter Bruring
Netherlands
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10
Feb 2011
With my (aero)space engineering background I can only say: most perfect game ever!!!

There are many strategies possible and navigating the map results in an understanding of the challenges of space travel.

This game is a masterpiece!
2011-02-17
Owned
Chris Farrell
United States
Cupertino
California
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10
Jan 2011
Couple comments now that I've played this quite a bit (although not with the expansion yet):

- My rating is for the "quickstart" game, where you deal one technology from each pile to each player. This should have been standard. There is no reason to start with 4 WT and no technology - it just takes too long to get going. If you've been playing that way, your gaming experience will be vastly improved with this rule.
- The comments about how difficult this game is are, in my opinion, overblown. The core systems are actually quite reasonable. Is putting together missions hard? Sure. But Brass, Antiquity, and Age of Steam are all tricky too and High Frontier isn't *that* much harder. High Frontier isn't gratuitously punishing, just pay attention, understand ISRU and how to land and take off, and realize your first game is a learning game. It's not crazy long - 2-2.5 hr - as long as players stay focussed and keep moving at a reasonable clip. Some experience will bring it down probably to under 2.
- 5 players is probably one too many. 3 or 4 is fine.
- OK, the auction isn't great. The play advice in the rulebooks suggests you should buy and sell technology to get WTs, but it's just wrong - if all you want to do is get WTs, just take one for your operation. It's a lot faster and the results are slightly better. Don't auction unless you want the technology, think you can sell it to someone else for 2+, or need to cycle the cards (to get at something to use as a factory product most likely). The game works better if you don't try to game the auctions as an income stream.
- Yes, you can get hosed by the dice. But this is not AMF or Origins - the risk are reasonable, given space exploration is hazardous, and you have plenty of options for mitigating them. High Frontier isn't a game you'd ever play for money or blood, but good players win.
- I really object to the folks who say that High Frontier has put the simulation ahead of the game. This is certainly generally true of Sierra Madre's games, but High Frontier is different. This is a real game in which the complexities of space exploration have been distilled down to a few highly playable game systems. It's a challenging game, it's an authentic game, it's a game based on a lot of science (and also plenty of speculation), but it's also a well-designed, playable game.
- And I'll say it again, don't play with the expansion until you've got a firm handle on the base game - 3 or 4 plays. The base game is a plenty rich game on its own. If you try to throw in the expansion before you've mastered the basics, the game will overwhelm you most likely and not be fun.
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This has really grown on me. I was biased towards liking it, but it has nonetheless exceeded expectations. It's not without some flaws; the early game is too slow, and too much time is spent taking a water to get your stuff into orbit. But the design of the map is totally brilliant, I think they've done a good job of designing the thrusters, robonauts, and refineries to be quite different but pretty well balanced, and the game is very challenging in an interesting and evocative way. It seems to be of sensible length end just at the right time. By far the best Sierra Madre game I've played.

Still: Use the fast setup (where everyone gets some stuff out of the gate). Do NOT attempt the expanded game unless ALL players have several (probably 3+) games under their belt. Seriously, don't do it. And realize that it's still a Sierra Madre game, which means it's richly thematic and scientifically edgy, but you can play a highly skillful game and come in last because you blew some critical die rolls, couldn't get the right technology, or whatever. The thing is, in High Frontier, there is always stuff to do and missions to plan. You may be stuck passing to get water, but even if you are, you are usually doing so towards achievable goals that are in your sights, which was not always the case in Origins or American Megafauna, where you could sometimes be screwed and without good options.

Last thing: Orange's special power is pretty lame in the basic game. I think the game plays best with 3 or 4 anyway, so I'd recommend just cutting them out (the PRC, while aggravating, makes for a more interesting playing experience and more interesting game).
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Chris' top tip: I strongly recommend playing the "quick-start" version in which everyone gets one card from each deck for starters. Otherwise I think the early game develops too slowly for new players. I also recommend, in the strongest possible terms, not playing the Expanded game until you have several games of the "basic" game under your belt. The split is a touch awkward - I wish the "slingshot" rules were in the basic game, without which the solar sails seem pretty hard to use - but the basic game is hard enough. High Frontier has a theory about how space will be developed economically, and you need to understand that theory as well as the problems with gravity before you can move on to the much more complex expanded game.
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I enjoyed this, but be warned it's a classic Sierra Madre Game: very flavorful, well-researched, evocative, and yet it often feels like you don't really have that much control, you're just going with the flow of events. I think it's going to take probably two plays for most people to feel like they're exerting sufficient control for a game of this length, and for the pacing to feel right. After just the one play, it feels a lot more stable and interesting than Origins did (and I even liked Origins, sort of), and I have hopes for this one. But, Sierra Madre games are always a bit dicey. In particular, the availability and flow of patents in this one feels pretty random, and I hope it works.

I highly recommend the basic game, and additionally the short version, for your first play.

Also like most SMG games, it's fun just to contemplate and look at all the thought that went into it. The map layout and movement system in particular is incredibly clever. Sure, it seems insanely unlikely you'd ever go to Venus in an actual game for any reason. But just to look at it and see the care that went into modeling something you'll never use, and how you *might* do it and what technology would be required is cool.
2011-03-06
Owned
Calavera Soñando
United States
Tucson
Arizona
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10
Nov 2013
Received Xmas 2010
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6: Rating is tentative after first play. Rules are incredibly arcane and obtuse, and even with a walkthrough, we still felt lost and frustrated. I feel like I have a good command of the science behind the game (I almost even majored in Astronomy) and so I would agree it does do a good job capturing the thematic science-related reasons behind elements of the game design. However, that doesn't make the experience necessarily any more playable. Hopefully this one will improve after future plays.

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8: Ratings revised to an 8 after second play with expansion. Something about how it all works finally clicked and I really enjoyed myself. It turns out, the game is really not all that complex once you figure out how it all fits together, and the strategies are not that deep, but the risk factor for successful endeavors is incredibly high - I almost feel like I am playing the game system more than the other players here, since the margin of success in the early game is so low that there is sometimes literally a nailbiting finish toward the end. Can't wait to play it again.

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9: Another ratings bump to 9. Each game of this gets better and better. In my most recent game, I got unlucky and had my rockets burn up in the Martian atmosphere TWICE, and I still had a blast playing. Cannot wait to get it to the table again.

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9.9: Ratings bump to 9.9 after my ninth play. This is, without a doubt, one of the most intense thematic narrative experiences ever, and at the same time, now that I understand the rules, know the cards inside and out, and have found some of the hidden map shortcuts and secret tricks, it's also one of the most competitive board games I own. With players who know the game well, every turn matters, every action counts, and the game escalates to a crescendo in the final round. I always suggest, I always want to play, and I can't see that changing in the foreseeable future. Like my other all-time favorite game (Diplomacy) the real tragedy of it is, it's not a game for casual gamers or stupid people, which means the pool of people I will get to play it with is very tiny. Still, it is an absolute glory of a game.

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A final note: with the Colonization expansion, and the right people at the table, there is no other game I'd rather play.

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2013-10-25
Owned
Eric Schiedler
United States
Austin
Texas
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10
Oct 2010
The game says what it says it wants to accomplish; and then goes out and does it brilliantly. Most games don't have anything to say or even a point. Those that do often fall short. This is an excellent game from a small publisher.
2010-10-26
Owned
Marc Figueras

Barcelona
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10
May 2012
A must for all science lovers. How can you resist playing with Lagrange points and calculating movement in terms of energy and specific impulse instead of distance? As usual with Phil Eklund's games, it is more an "experience game" blended with a detailed simulation than a true competitive game. Some players don't like this kind of game, I love them!
2012-05-24
Owned
Peet Smith
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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10
Nov 2010
The game is not so much complex as involved. The rules aren't complicated... but they take some work to wrap your head around.
2010-11-30
Owned
Want To Play
Jens Hoppe
Denmark
Frederiksberg
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What are you, like 80?
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It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage.
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10
Feb 2012
We've had our first try with support cards and radiation belt rules, and OMG! The "my head is exploding!" feeling was back: It was like playing the game for the first time again. Awesome.
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Presently, we use a hybrid rules variant, where we play mostly basic rules, but use the big map and a few of the advanced rules (regolith refuellers, jettisoning stuff, slingshots). This works well with beginners, although we advice them to concentrate on the basic game board (for their own sake). ;-)
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A couple of (basic) games later: It's just brilliant!
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My first game (3p, basic rules) came off to a slow start, with players spending the first hour or so buying and selling patents and accumulating WTs. Eventually we set out for the stars, and what fun it was! I can't wait to play again.
2011-04-12
Owned
William Boykin
United States
Texas
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Are You Not Entertained????
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10
Dec 2010
Not for Wimps.

If you're looking for a light game- go away.
If you're looking for a game with a 'catch up' mechanism- go away.
If you're looking for a game with 'low luck' (and don't understand what that really means)- go FAR away.

If, on the other hand, you're looking for a playable game about Space Colonization that holds NOTHING BACK- where what the player is able to control has hardly any luck at all, but woe to the person who is unable to plan...

And if you're looking for a game that is an economic simulation on a level seldom seen outside of wargames...

And if you're looking for a game that is more than just 'thematic'- it will actually TEACH YOU something about its subject....

And if you're looking for a game who by a designer who is the ONLY person in the Buisness who (in my humble opinion) deserves the approbation of 'artist' because his games truly are a reflection of the world (as seen by Mr. Eklund)

Then run, do not walk, to your FLGS and DEMAND that they carry this game. But get it with the Expansion- you're not really playing High Frontier without it.

Darilian
2010-12-09
Owned
Chuck Parrott
United States
Winnabow
North Carolina
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10
Feb 2011
Incredible experience and I mean experience. Not so much a game as it is a journey and a great deal of fun for a journey. Most fun planning my turns I've had in ages. Easily up there with 18xx games as my favorite games of all time.

Ecklund's shining masterpiece.
2011-02-18
Owned
Brian Hurrel
United States
Livingston
New Jersey
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10
Jan 2011
This game has an extremely high learning curve and requires a substantial investment of time and mental energy. A fair knowledge of scientific knowledge is also a plus. That said, it is worth the effort. The last time I had this much fun just tooling around the solar system is when I first played Tripanetary in the late '70s. This game takes things to a whole new level as you research technologies and plot out the best routes to reach the resources of the planets and asteroids, all the while competing/cooperating with other factions. Just fantastic in so many ways, and all the technology is real or theoretically possible. Who ever said hard science was boring?!
2011-01-11
Owned
Neal Sofge
United States
Silver Spring
Maryland
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10
Feb 2011
As is often the case with SMG, not only is this the sole game treatment of the subject, it's the definitive one, and a great time to boot. Incredible amounts of well-researched detail, all of which has game effects, makes this a fully immersive experience.
2011-02-18
Owned
Want In Trade
German Mike
United States
Hudson
Ohio
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10
Apr 2011
Rating after one play:

In hindsight, I realize that this was not a good choice for BOGA gamenight. Too long and too involved to be explained and played in a busy setting such as BOGA. I let my excitement about this game take control of me and I pushed for it to be played. I now realize that we probably would all have had a better time bringing this to the table on a meaty game night at Nathan's or Steve's and Bess' place.

Now about the game: no surprises here from my side, I loved it, even given the suboptimal setting and rules explanation we had. I am an aerospace engineer and space buff to begin with and I am simply amazed how this game manages to immerse me in the theme of space exploration and exoglobalization. This is a very harsh game! Mistakes are severely punished out there in cold space. You forgot to take enough lander fuel with you? Go decomission! Burned up during the Venus atmospheric approach? Go decomission! You did not manage to prospect 10 1-site claims in a row? Get yourself a raygun and stop bitching!

I love the game for what it is, which to me seems to be foremost a good simulation. I can understand any criticism about game balance, but I would have to remind you that this game was not necessarily designed with game balance in mind. There seem to be some clearly better strategies than others, but then again, everyone is invited to pursue them.

My mind kept racing about this game all night long. I would love to try this again, now that we all got the hang of the rules a little bit better. Now that we know the rules, I seriously cannot see why this would take more than 3 hours to play. Maybe one or two more base games before diving into the full expansion game experience. I hope that you are not too "turned off" by it to give it another shot.

Update: after 5 plays, this becomes a 10 for me. It's not the most elegant, not the most euroesque experience out there, but certainly the most thematic game out there. Of course, I am biased having studied aerospace engineering. Some call it "NASA in a box". For me, it is a great sandbox game.
2011-04-22
Owned
Tarwin Tarwinator
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10
Feb 2011
I love this game. There never was a board game that enthraled me like this. Maybe Talisman as I was 13 years old, but nothing since. ^_^
2011-02-07
Owned
Reinhard Mueller
Germany
Gauting
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10
Feb 2013
The non-wargame I love to play most.
I don't care about the ever-changing rules, though. The problem is that they tend to get more complicated and more and more exceptions are introduced, instead of the rules being streamlined. Maybe I'll just forget about the internet and play HF as "printed in the book" for the rest of my life.
Also the components (mostly from the base game) do not "keep pace" with the rules. There is only space for on outpost stack on the players mat, which is used for either bernal/ersatz-bernal/Leo, no way to track the different types of fuel which can be loaded into the rocket. Further, with so many possible moves and operations (colonists) per turn, there should be a way to track what element already moved / did its operation. Especially as moves and operations can now be freely mixed. I sometimes use glass beads for this, but most games have some elegant mechanics "built in" to track such things.
2013-11-07
Owned
pronoblem baalberith
United States
Pleasantville
Massachusetts
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Is it just me or do my balls itch?
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10
Jan 2012
High Frontier is one of the coolest looking games I own. The board and the card art are very well done.

It has the right amount of chrome, chaos and strategy to fit my style. Very frustrating at times. NOT for the AP prone. The rules / mechanics are very straightforward once you get into the game. This an Origins are two masterpieces of gaming from Phil Eklund.
2012-10-11
Owned
United States
Ohio
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We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
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There is hope.
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10
May 2011
A masterpiece of science, art, and game design.

The definitive game on deep space exploration and colonization. 30 years in the making and it shows. Well done Mr. Eklund.


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I have some really high hopes for this game. Its a sci-fi economic game with basis in actual space flight, using the real solar system as its backdrop. I've already learned more about space travel having just slogged my way through the rulebook. The game promises player interaction, mission planning, auctions, price speculation, direct competition for valuable locations in the system, and epic system spanning journeys pushing technology to the limit to setup factories on new worlds...and bringing the crews home again.

I'm crossing my fingers.

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This game lived up to all my expectations. The economic engine, mission planning, rocket movement, and mission selection offer huge variety. I agree with many of the other reviews that the game isn't for everyone. But the game itself is not overly complicated, but it may seem so on your way to understanding everything.

If you are a huge fan of the theme (which I am) you can't go wrong.

Brilliant design.

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With each play I come to appreciate the subtleties inherent in a simulation game like this. There is a plethora of scientific knowledge packed into the board, the cards, the intricacy of their cohesion (or lack thereof), and the mission planning. When I landed on Mars and set up a factory for the first time I was actually quite proud of the achievement (this has since become relatively easy and even a bit routine but just as the first mission to the Moon was full of awe and wonder, so was my first mission to Mars).

As players become more comfortable with the technology and how to maximize them for mission planning the game becomes significantly more tactical. With more than 2 players the game can really shine as this opens up limitless negotiation platforms (tech, player abilities, arranged docking, cooperative missions, etc.)

Excellent game in every way.

"Its one small step for Sierra Madre Games, one...giant leap..for games of this kind."

Highest Personal Score - 34
Highest Group Score - 41 - Kris ESA

Largest Accomplishments: 34 points and win without factories. First site bonus, science site, two space ventures, and prospected Saturns moons for victory.

Planned a coordinated mission to Pluto during a five player game. Unfortunately the pace of the game was such that I shifted directions and managed to prospect three of Uranus' moons.


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2014-12-03
Prev. Owned
Canada
Sarnia
Ontario
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10
May 2011
You actually feel like you are planning missions. A very accurate feeling simulation, and not nearly as complicated as some comments might suggest.
2011-08-06
Owned
Charlie Mote
United States
Decatur
Georgia
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10
Feb 2012
Likely prescient economics-and-physics simulation of the (hopefully) coming solar system industrialization space-race. Possibly the greatest difficult modern game yet created. Tons of activity at the yahoo group.

Loving the rules, the map, working on miniatures. Not the biggest fan of the cover art - a bit too obscure, would have loved a shot of Earth with a space elevator, or busy Luna colony with Earth rise.

2014-10-10
Owned
Want In Trade
Want To Buy
Dave Terhune
United States
Colorado Springs
Colorado
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This overtext is a blatant example of frivolous spending.
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I spent 100 geek gold and all I got was this lousy overtext.
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10
Dec 2014
I never thought I'd see a game that I would play over ASL. But I have, and it is this game.
2014-12-13
Owned
Pete Martyn
United States
Guilford
VT
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10
Aug 2012
I rate some other games as 10s because they are brilliant games. This is not a brilliant game. It is a clunky, awkwardly-paced, brutally callous game that delights in the tears of its players. I am rating it as a system for applying high-voltage shocks to the imagination.

No, one does not play High Frontier to compete. One plays to dream. This is as close as any of us will ever get to planning interplanetary missions. Now, maybe you are the type of unimaginative sod who does not care for interplanetary missions. That's fine. Well, no, not really -- it marks you as a doofus with no sense of wonder at the universe. You can probably overcome that, though, and if you do, you will like High Frontier. It is a thrilling game, in its complexity and occasional (i.e., frequent) misfortunes. And it makes one feel both very small and fragile and very expansive and very aware of all the wondrous conglomerations of matter zooming just out of reach.

It's odd but I feel like I'm part of a brotherhood when I play this. From here on out BGG is two groups of people -- those who adore High Frontier and those who don't. Those of you who don't like it may be wonderful people and I am happy to play other games with you. But those of us up here with our 10 ratings have tasted something you'll never feel. We have The Right Stuff.
2012-08-30
Owned
Want To Play
Ryan Hendricks
United States
San Antonio
Texas
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10
Apr 2012
Brilliant game with a heavy use of theme and very very hard decisions to be made.

Update: Even after over a dozen plays, I just like the game even more. The ship parts are well-balanced and there are plenty of locations that are achievable early on making it a game of "know how to do the best with what you have" instead of "grab the best ship parts and planets before others do".
2012-04-16
Owned
Robb Minneman
United States
Tacoma
Washington
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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10
Oct 2012
This is the best game ever. Seriously. It has a learning curve that goes straight up, but once you master the basics it's awesome. No two games are ever alike, and you're always finding something new and cool to do during the game.

Plus, it does a wonderful job of simulating the reality of space travel. Just an excellent, excellent game.
2012-10-11
Owned
Want To Play
Jeff Perrella
United States
Anoka
Minnesota
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with a purposeful grimace
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and a terrible sound
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10
Nov 2011
Absolutely outstanding game! Expansion is a must have.
2011-11-20
Owned
Nicholas Kinsman
Canada
Halifax
Nova Scotia
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10
Oct 2013


[June 2012]
Ordered a laser etched set of replacement pieces.
2012-06-13
Owned
Stanislav Zhorin
Russia
Moscow
Moscow
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And that's why!
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And that's why!
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10
Jul 2013
It's good. It's very good. It's masterpiece. It's 11. =)
Good game with unhuman rules that makes sense.
2013-07-17
Owned
Want To Play
Patrick Leder
United States
Saint Paul
Minnesota
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10
Jun 2012
Came for the theme, stayed for the challenge. I like knowing I can fail, it makes the game so much more tense. Even when you fail, you can have a good time. This is a valuable game and I hope it sparks the imaginations of a new generation of scientists and engineers.
2012-06-27
Owned
Richard Bing
Canada
Cambridge
Ontario
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a thousand words are better
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10
Dec 2013
Rich thematic content. Complex enough that it's hard to get on the table and needs a solid chunk of time as well as experienced or quick-learning players. Past that hurdle, a terrific game and an educational experience too.
2013-05-09
Owned
Chris Tannhauser
United States
San Diego
California
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The Cathedral is vast, as are you.
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10
May 2012
Gutted for spare parts; I loan the patent decks (including the supports from the Expansion) out for new players to study—hilarity is magnified when everyone understands completely why things went horribly wrong.

(Includes High Frontier Expansion.)
2014-04-25
Owned
Björn Hansson
Sweden
Bromma
Stockholm
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10
Oct 2012
Bloody brilliant game. Totally unforgiving but so much fun!
2012-10-04
Owned
Scott
United States
denver
Colorado
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10
Dec 2012
(Initial impressions here; lot of hyperbole...I need to revisit my review after a few more plays.)

UPDATE: So good it gives me panic attacks! Like ASL, High Frontier engages my imagination in a way that other games do not. This, this, is what I want from games: an imaginative journey, an education, and mind-expanding inspiration. This is why I play games.

First play. Five players, four newbies. We didn't finish and I spend most of the game on Earth trying to figure out what the heck to do after a poorly-planned trip to the moon went awry. But holy shit! I freaking loved it! Perhaps the most conceptually tricky board game I've ever played...figuring out what to do is challenging as hell. This is the first time I've encountered such open-world in a board game. Straight up 10 for that if no other reason. The thematic integration and what seems (to my unscientific mind) to be some very real science in the design and chrome makes this a 10 for sure. It has just enough Euro in it to be playable, but beats the shit out of you as a space-travel game ought to. Careful though, this is not a game for everybody...especially those who don't get a sick thrill out of being kicked in the nuts repeatedly by a board game or who prefer not to invest the brain power and time it takes to figure things out. I get it, I've been there myself with other games, but HF is something special.

HF is my type of game: immersive as all get out, beautiful (not merely the breathtaking wtf? board, but in the overall design), strategic (yeah, there's luck and chaos, but that's life), and educational (yes, a little didactic maybe...I'm fine with it). It isn't really simulation, but rather a game that captures the 'feel' of what its trying to simulate through simplification and purification. What you're left with is playable game that tells you something about space travel and gives you a sense for what a challenge and accomplishment it would be to travel out into our solar system.

This is not a 'teach the rules and lets play in a couple hours (correctly)' style of game. It requires a fairly dedicated group willing to work through the frustration of figuring out what to do. The one complaint I have is with the rules, which are simultaneously good and bad, is that they could be a little more explicit and better organized. They include a depth of cool scientific info and seem to be complete, but they really could be more clear and explicit. I understand the value in letting your players figure things out...High Frontier is a sandbox in that way and part of the fun is realizing all of the cool stuff that you can do in the game, but there is no reason not to be a little clearer about what exactly one is trying to accomplish and how the various tools interact (I'm still not sure why I would want a freighter). Minor complaints though...I could see this game getting a ton of play if I can find the right players. In many ways this is my "dream game"--I've been looking for something like this for a long time.

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I'm shitting myself to play this game ASAP. The rules, surprise, could use a rewrite, and a de-jargonizing but the topic is so juicy I'm willing to forgive it. Fired up as all get out to figure this sucker out. Reading rules now...
2013-04-16
Owned
David Ells
United States
Baltimore
Maryland
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Here the truceless armies yet / Trample, rolled in blood and sweat; / They kill and kill and never die; / And I think that each is I. // None will part us, none undo / The knot that makes one flesh of two, /
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Sick with hatred, sick with pain, / Strangling -- When shall we be slain? // When shall I be dead and rid / Of the wrong my father did? / How long, how long, till spade and hearse / Puts to sleep my mother's curse?
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10
Oct 2012
2nd copy, used
2013-10-25
Owned
Joe Macfarland

Arnold
Maryland
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10
Dec 2012
Perfect marriage of theme and complexity.
2014-11-02
Owned
Ido Magal
United States
Seattle
Washington
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10
Jul 2013
Update: I've since played several 2 and 3 player games and I'm still digging the base game.
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Played half of a basic game.

Overwhelmed by the rules but excited about playing again.
2013-07-06
Owned
Marcus Lau
Malaysia
Petaling jaya
Selangor
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10
Jan 2013
High learning curve, difficult to master space travel simulation. High recommended for 18xx fanboys looking for a diffent game with the same level of complexity.
2013-01-18
Owned
10
May 2014
Count this as my rating for colonization.
2014-05-01
Owned
Geoff
United States
Natick
Massachusetts
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Trust no one
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Scully?! SCULLY!!!
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10
Jun 2014
Holy space bucks. This game. I had it on the trade list, because I didn't think I was ever going to make it through the rulebook and get it to the table. I though about putting it up in an auction or math trade now that it is worth some cash.

So so so glad I didn't. I just played at a local game day, and my mind has officially been blown. I think I am going to dream of water tanks and thrusters tonight.

--July 5, 2014--

Ugh, why did I rate this game a 10 after just one play? Now I can't raise the rating after my second
2014-07-05
Owned
Sebastien Cormier
Canada
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10
Jun 2013
This is my favorite game, hands down. My brother owns it, but I moved to the other side of the country...

It's just so hard to find players D:

Meanwhile, I guess I'll get my space fix with Kerbal Space Program...
2013-06-07
Want To Buy
Want To Play
suPUR DUEper
United States
Villa Hills
Kentucky
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10
Sep 2013
Tons of fun! HF is heavy, deep, thought provoking games where you are trying to apply a relatively simple set of rules and components in various ways to achieve a goal. Exploring the solar system looking for water requires a much different approach than dropping a factory on Mars.

The joy of this game comes from exploring the game system rather than direct competition with other players.
2013-11-28
Owned
stine
Italy
Genoa
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10
Jan 2014
Just incredible.
2015-01-25
Owned
Want To Play
Daniel Länsimies
Finland
Kokkola
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10
Oct 2013
This game is so unlike other games that I have a hard time knowing what it is, game or just a simplified boardgame-disguised simulation. The gameplay feels like it should be boring and achieving any results is very difficult, but somehow I really feel like I'm in charge of a space agency. Even managing a trip to the moon is a huge effort and the feeling of satisfaction is awesome once you finally get there. All in all I don't know what this is but I know it has been a long time since I smiled so much after a game. Oh and special satisfaction for the laughs when your competitors spaceship burns up in the mars atmosphere... and pity when it happens to them over and over again. Some people can't catch a break.

After third game of playing with correct rules but still basic game: I feel ready to move to a slightly expanded game, Colonization modules still feels lightyears away. And my rating of 10 is strengthened even more. This is the perfect experience, but I'm still not sure whether it is a game or simulation and I still don't care about who wins.

Fifth game where we first tried a slightly expanded game and added rocket support modules, slingshots and radiation belts. Wow, just as I thought the base game rocket building was getting easy this comes in and kicks me in the groin. It adds to the gametime, at least in the beginning. It makes the game as a whole a lot better. The auction is no longer boring and repetitive. But with the full rocket building rules this game becomes extremely complex. Our playgroup was definately not a bunch of casual stupid kimble players, quite the opposite, but the game throws such a huge challenge that even though rules are relatively simple and logical in the background the possible combinations of rocket/mission planning become very tough to wrap your head around.

All being said, this game is really not for everyone and the expanded game proved that, but I personally found the holy grail of boardgames. Space-nerds and gamers capable of handling the challenge are guaranteed to get their kicks from this while others might find it frustrating and never leave LEO.
2014-11-26
Owned
Luke Stirling
Australia
Southbank
Victoria
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10
Nov 2013
After only getting a few turns into a my first (PBF) game, I have already come to the realisation that this game may well be the very pinnacle of game design coinciding with my tastes. The theme is truly evocative, and the structure is overflowing with innumerable interesting choices from start to finish.

While there certainly is a bit of a learning curve to overcome at the start, I can think of no other game which has rewarded me in similar proportion to the effort I put into learning High Frontier.
2013-11-21
Owned
Want To Play
David Ells
United States
Baltimore
Maryland
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Here the truceless armies yet / Trample, rolled in blood and sweat; / They kill and kill and never die; / And I think that each is I. // None will part us, none undo / The knot that makes one flesh of two, /
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Sick with hatred, sick with pain, / Strangling -- When shall we be slain? // When shall I be dead and rid / Of the wrong my father did? / How long, how long, till spade and hearse / Puts to sleep my mother's curse?
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10
Oct 2013
3rd copy, used
2013-10-25
Owned

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